Adsorption of ammonium in aqueous solutions by pine sawdust and wheat straw biochars

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Journal titleEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
SubjectBlack carbon; Charcoal; Ammonium adsorption; Kinetics; Isotherm; Wastewater treatment
AbstractAmmonium (NH4+) is a common form of reactive nitrogen in wastewater, and its discharge to water bodies can lead to eutrophication. This study was conducted to understand NH4+ adsorption mechanisms of pine sawdust and wheat straw biochars in aqueous solutions and the factors affecting NH4+ removal. Biochars were produced by pyrolysing pine sawdust at 300°C (PS300) and 550°C (PS550) and wheat straw at 550 °C (WS550). Pseudo-second-order and Redlich-Peterson models best fitted the adsorption data. The PS300 showed the highest NH4+ adsorption capacity (5.38 mg g−1), followed by PS550 (3.37 mg g−1) and WS550 (2.08 mg g−1). Higher H/C and O/C ratios of PS300 (0.78 and 0.32, respectively) indicated the greater presence of functional groups on the biochar’s surface as compared to PS550 (0.35 and 0.10, respectively) and WS550 (0.36 and 0.08, respectively), resulting in different NH4+ adsorption through electrostatic interactions. The dominant mechanism for NH4+ adsorption by the biochars was likely chemical bonding and electrostatic interaction of NH4+ with the surface functional groups. Lower pyrolysis temperature resulted in a higher NH4+ adsorption capacity by the pine sawdust biochar. At the same pyrolysis temperature (550 °C), the biochar made with pine sawdust as the feedstock had a higher NH4+ adsorption capacity than biochar made from wheat straw. We conclude that biochars can be efficient absorbents for NH4+ removal from wastewater, and the removal efficiency can be optimised by selecting different feedstocks or the pyrolysis condition for biochar production.
AffiliationAquatic and Crop Resource Development; National Research Council Canada
Peer reviewedYes
NPARC number23002588
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Record identifier84b5ac3b-741f-4e8b-8368-1cfd737bad85
Record created2017-12-04
Record modified2017-12-04
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